Monday, August 26, 2013

Jewel Tones

Modelling Sophie
My first memory of you is a serene face atop a black suit with a flash of amethyst silk at your neck. Your sapphire eyes sparkled and you reminded me of a beautiful Annette Bening.

"She'd be someone I would love to know ..." I remember thinking wistfully.

That was back in 1995 or '96.

And, it turns out, you are.

Colour is important to you - you notice the prism-like beauty of a sun dog, the mysteries of the variegated greens as you run through a forest. You affectionately called your much-loved mother-in-law a peacock because of her sense of style and passion for vivid hues.

The Christmas after I got Josephine, you gave me a ruby hat adorned by a black band festooned with silk flowers. Pinned inside the hat was a hand-written tag saying her name was Sophie. "Wear her when you're out and about with Josephine," you suggested.

We were in Quebec City at a Carswell conference on a break years ago, window shopping in a store stocked with richly woven woollen goods, when we really started talking. We were both at question marks in that period of our lives. I remember how easy it was to confide in you, how I knew I could trust your wisdom, your discretion, your perspective.

From then on you became in a sense my personal Polaris. 

You are the only person I know who has a concert grand in her living room, who knew that music was so important to the fibre of her being that one of the primary criteria when searching for a home of her dreams was that there be room for the piano of her dreams.

You understand the pull of Handel's Messiah every year. You mourn during the Easter production of the selected Requiem. You gave me the book of Beethoven sonatas that I turn to both in joy and in sorrow.

Your voice itself is melodious, often reminding me of Mozart and the light and beauty he brought - he brings - through his music.

You know the power of the perfect little black dress.

You brought the magic of Paris - a lifelong dream for you! - back to us, who waited eagerly to hear your stories.

You and John plan great swaths of your life with care and much thought; and yet you are flexible enough to live in the moment, to adapt to someone else's plans and schedule without losing sight of your desired end:

At my 50th birthday luncheon

Blue coffees ...

Indian restaurants for plates of copper-coloured butter chicken curry on pearly basmati rice ...

Lazy afternoon in your back yard drinking some delectable amber beverage and nibbling on avocados ripened to a perfect jade ...

Drive to Three Hills for a quick lunch in the purple chairs ... (You are one of the very few people who have ever come out to see me rather than simply meeting me when I'm in the city; do you know how very much that means?)

Even when we haven't seen each other for some time, you make it easy to pick up the threads of our lives right where we left off. You have always welcomed me to share your family table, and it has been a joy to see snippets of your two boys as they have grown and matured into the truly wonderful young men they are today.

You accept adversity, and adjust your plans accordingly, with a minimum of outward protest and a maximum of inner strength. You set a powerful, compelling example of grace in action.

This year it's time to tell you thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the music and the colour you bring just by being. Thank you for your friendship.

Happy birthday - you are pitch perfect.


  1. Beautiful Mary, thank you for being so close to Karyn,for sharing ears that really hear, and hearts that recognize the steady, beating rhythm undergirding all of life. Thank you for knowing that music - the taut, invisible lines of it - are what hold the world together! You share something that is unique and special, given to the very few, and it makes a Hallelujah rise every day, a shimmering sound that allows the rest of us to breathe.

  2. How lovely, thanks for your very kind words Karyn. Jack Singer is my favourite listening place with you beside me.


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